Holidays and Holy Days Around the World

Conclusion of Lent and Easter


As noted in last week’s Lions Share, one of the holiest periods of the Christian calendar comes to a conclusion for western Christians this weekend.  Holy Week began Sunday with Palm Sunday, Good Friday is tomorrow, and the Lenten season ends with the celebration of Easter Sunday.
 

Pesach (Passover)


Passover begins the evening of Friday, April 15, and ends the evening of Saturday, April 23 (2022).  Chabad.org notes that this eight day Jewish festival “commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.”  The holiest days are the first and last two days of Passover.  Holiday candles are lit at night and accompanied by celebratory meals, and many also recognize these Jewish holy days by not working, driving, writing, or using electronic devices.
 
The date of Jewish Passover is often close to the date of Christian Easter.  This is a result of the fact that the Christian Bible describes the crucifixion of Jesus as taking place during Passover.  In French, “Easter” is known as Pâques.  In Spanish, Pascua.  And in Greek, Pascha.  These all derive from the Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach.  According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia,  the name “Easter” in English and other Germanic languages (German Oster) is of less clear origin, though according to some sources the name is derived from an old Germanic goddess of the rising sun and spring.


Passover / Easter


Passover does not coincide in 2016,  occurring April 23-30, with Easter March 27.  
As noted in last week’s Lions Share, the Jewish festival of Passover began last week.  The last day of Passover will be Tuesday, April 22.  This week is also the Christian Holy Week leading up to Easter on Sunday, April 20.  The coincidence of these events is a result of the fact that the Christian Bible describes the crucifixion of Jesus as taking place during Passover.  In French, “Easter” is known as Pâques.  In Spanish, Pascua.  And in Greek, Pascha.  These all derive from the Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach.  According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia,  the name “Easter” in English and other Germanic languages (German Oster) is of less clear origin, though according to some sources the name is derived from an old Germanic goddess of the rising sun and spring.
 

Theravada Buddhist New Year


There is much diversity of Buddhist practice around the world, but the two largest divisions of Buddhism are Theravada and Mahayana.  Most use a lunar calendar, and according to Buddhanet, in most countries that practice Theravada Buddhism, “the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April…[while in most] Mahayana countries the new year starts the first full moon day in January.”  The first full moon of April is Saturday, April 16,  this year (2022), making this date the beginning of New Year for most Theravada Buddhists.


Ridván


The Bahá’í festival of Ridván begins at sunset on Wednesday, April 20 and ends at sunset, May 2 (yearly).  According to Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time: Bahá’í Studies by John Walbridge, this festival commemorates the period in 1863 when the founder of the Bahá’í faith, known as the Bahaá’u’lláh, announced his claim to prophethood.  The name refers to a garden in Baghdad (in present-day Iraq) which the Bahaá’u’lláh named Ridván, meaning “Paradise”.
 
According to the Bahá’í Faith website, “Bahá’ís view the world’s major religions as a part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity.”  Bahá’ís believe Bahaá’u’lláh to be the most recent of a long line of prophets, including “Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.”
 
The first, ninth, and twelfth days of Ridván are major holy days when adherents to the Bahá’í faith do not work.  Bahá’í elections also occur during this period.
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